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Landmark Hearing: US Hacker Ordered by Court to Pay Bail in Bitcoin

A US court has ordered an alleged hacker to pay for his bail using cryptocurrency.

Magistrate Judge Corley has ordered the defendant, Martin Marsich — a 25-year-old Serb/Italian national charged for a hacking offense to pay an equivalent of $750,000 in cryptocurrency for bail.

Marsich is accused of hacking US video games company Electronic Arts (EA), and obtaining in-game currency to buy and sell in-game items. He is also said to have sold access to online games though black-market websites. Marsich is accused of hacking into 25,000 user accounts.

Residing Judge Corley has been in the news before regarding cryptocurrency. Last November she ruled in favor of the IRS, against cryptocurrency giant exchange Coinbase. Judge Corley ordered the cryptocurrency platform to submit information about clients’ transactions to the government agency.

District Attorney of St Mateo County, Steve Wagstaffe was quoted saying, “[he has] never heard of anyone bailing out of jail with cryptocurrency in any courtroom.” While acknowledging that cryptocurrency was acceptable in the federal court, he claimed that a similar bail “would fly in a San Mateo County Superior Court”

Assistant District Attorney Abraham Simmons explained that “judges can order many kinds of bail, including real estate owned by another person.”

Further, he was quoted saying, “The judge could order just about anything…It really is quite broad…What the objective is, is to get the defendant to comply with an order to appear later.”

With regards to the fluctuating value of cryptocurrencies, particularly in the current volatile market ,and how this would affect a “crypto-paid” bail, Simmons commented, “I would imagine that either side would alert the court of an extreme change in the value of the asset, but it doesn’t mean that the court would care one way or the other.”

The initial complaint charges Marsich with:

“…intentionally accessing a protected computer without authorization to obtain information for the purposes of commercial advantage and private financial gain…and accessing a protected computer to defraud and obtain anything of value.”

Marsich was arrested while boarding a flight to Serbia on August 8th by San Francisco Police. If convicted, the defendant could face a maximum of  5 years imprisonment, a fine of $250,000 plus restitution.

Although bail bonds paid using cryptocurrency may be regarded as beyond the norm, paying taxes in this may well become acceptable in the US after the Rules Committee of the Arizona House of Representatives passed a bill this year that allows residents of the state to use cryptocurrencies in making tax payments.

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